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Old August 6th, 2015, 05:03 PM   #1
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Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

Hey guys.

Anyone use this lens with their C100/300?

I like the reach (I have the crappy non-L lens and use it regularly) of the 70-300. And the price/weight sure beats the 70-200 2.8L ... I sometimes carry all gear in a backpack, which can find itself on my back for an hour or more..

I also thought about the 100-400 4L, but not sure how often I'd use it at 400, how easy focus would be at 400, and how sharp it'd be at that focal length.

Many thanks!
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Old August 6th, 2015, 06:48 PM   #2
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

I just compared the L lens to the non-L on The Digital Picture.

Sharpness is much improved (roll your mouse over to compare):
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens Image Quality

Flare is also much better:
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens Flare Test Results

Vignetting is similar:
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens Vignetting

Distortion is similar:
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens Distortion

Overall, it seems that the main improvement is the quality of the glass and the coatings.

I used to own the 70-300 non-L. It was my first lens with my 5D2! I liked the 300mm length for wildlife (rabbits & deer), but the images just weren't crisp. I found the images on fine detail to look grungy. Not necessarily soft but a bit dirty or ugly. It's kind of like the difference between a nice tube amplifier (which is smooth and attractive sounding) and a bad transistor amplifier (which is harsh.)

I sold the 70-300 and got the 200/2.8L. I lost IS, but gained a stop or two. The images were crisp and pleasing. The difference was night and day. Here are some images I shot with that lens on day 1:

June 2009 - Canon EF 200mm f/2.8 L II

Here's a crop of a rabbit photo from the 70-300:
http://fairhurst.com/photos/spring_2...yond-tree2.JPG

Somehow, the rabbit's fur doesn't quite grab the viewer. With a great lens, you should almost be able to feel each hair (or hare?)

On the downside, I lost IS with the 200L, and it was a bit wide for wildlife. I bought the 2x Extender II, but lost two stops as well as some sharpness. If I were to buy again, I'd get the 1.4x Extender III.

In the end, I realized that even 200m was a bit tight for filming people in most situations. I bought the 100/2.8L IS Macro. This is a really fantastic lens as it's sharp, clean, fast, has (the best) IS, is affordable, and can do 1:1 macro shots. The focus throw is long enough for video shooting too. This mainly replaces my 85/1.8 portrait lens, which was a bit milky. To me, the 100L gives the best bang for the buck. It's now my only "long" lens. (And, no, it's not long enough for wildlife.)

As a backpacking lens, the 100 macro won't give you your present reach, but opens up the possibility of macro shots. It's a different style than long lens shooting, but can be at least as enjoyable.

I wish I could give more information about other long zooms, but I haven't owned them. I definitely recommend IS as a feature for traveling light as I missed this with the 200L for handheld shots. Regarding the sharpness at 400mm, in general, lenses are sharper at the long end than at the short end. I'm sure that it would beat your current 70-300.

Best of luck in finding the right upgrade!
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Old August 6th, 2015, 07:33 PM   #3
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

I just compared the 70-300L to the 100-400L on The Digital Picture. My comparisons were made at 400mm and 300mm respectively from a wildlife shooter perspective.

The 70-300 is sharper:
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens Image Quality

The 70-300 has less vignetting:
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens Image Quality

The 70-300 has less flare:
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens Image Quality

Distortion is about the same:
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens Distortion

For photos of wildlife at a distance, the 400mm length could be an advantage. The lens is a bit faster per forcal length, and even though you lose some sharpness, you don't have to crop as much as at 300mm. Also, when one focuses on a small animal, vignetting isn't a bad thing. It directs the eye to the subject. When processing film photos, I've learned to burn the edges a bit to give this effect on purpose.

On the other hand, when you can get closer to plants or want to show a detailed rock wall, I'd choose the 70-300mm lens. In these cases, you can generally walk a little closer so the zoom length isn't so important. For the rock wall case, one generally doesn't want vignetting. Having less flare, CA, and vignetting and getting more sharpness can make a big difference.

For pictures of people, by 400mm, one gets the feeling of a surveillance photo. You can be far enough away so they don't notice you at all. The long distance flattens their features. It's an interesting, specific style.

Here's an example 400mm shot with the 200L and 2x extender at f/5.6. The focal plane is very shallow. The three people are all the same size, so they compress and flatten together. If you want spontaneous photos of the unaware with this style, the 100-400 would be the right choice.

http://fairhurst.com/photos/Zoo_2011...e/IMG_4323.JPG

So, for impromptu photos of people and photos of wildlife, I'd choose the 100-400L. For more general shooting, including more normal portraits and photos of the landscape, I'd choose the higher image quality of the 70-300L.

As always, the best lens is the one that best matches your target application.

Still, for outdoor shooting, the 100L Macro is my top choice. You can't always get mammals to appear and stand still, but you can do portraits and landscapes effectively and add close up photos to your collection. Interesting bugs, flowers, plants, and rocks are always nearby. And it's surprising how easy it is to frame the image by walking. But if your targets are mammals and birds, forget it. 100mm just isn't near long enough.
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Old August 14th, 2015, 03:56 PM   #4
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

Thanks Jon for sharing your experiences. I appreciate your effort!

I'm looking for the lens for video, I don't actually own a Canon DSLR.

I guess I was curious whether the 70-300 mm L series compared with the 100-400 L in terms of image sharpness, saturation, focus and zoom ring feel, etc.

I thought to get one of the above as an alternative to the 70-200 2.8 (as I don't think I really need the extra stop in light.
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Old August 14th, 2015, 05:07 PM   #5
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

I had a Canon 100 - 400 L. It worked very well on the C-100, but it was bulky and heavy so I sold it. I never like having to slide the lens in and out for zooming even when I used it on a 5D.
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Old August 14th, 2015, 06:19 PM   #6
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

Yeah Dave, I realized that I had mixed photo and video use in my posts above. I use the lenses for both, but on DSLRs rather than Cx00s.

At work, I use the 70-200/2.8L IS II. I just used it yesterday for photos and have used it many times for filming people speaking from a lectern. This lens is especially large, heavy, and "visible" (about the same as the 100-400.) For video, I only use it on a tripod. The IS still helps as it cuts down micro-vibration at the long end. The optics are fantastic. It compares well (if not better than) to the 200/2.8L II and you get zoom and IS to boot.

I agree with the Jim that the 100-400 is probably not the best solution given its slide zoom and inferior optics compared to the 70-300. The 100-400 weighs 56 oz compared to 37 for the 70-300 and it's a couple of inches longer. The one advantage is that the focus throw of the longer lens is 232 vs. 150 degrees for the shorter.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens Compared to the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

Then again, the focus throw on the 70-200 is 137 degrees and it's definitely usable for video, though you need a fine touch at the long end. (I find monitoring for critical focus to be the bigger issue than the throw.) 150 degrees is nothing to brag about, but it will get the job done.

The one bummer is that the 70-300 will not accept an extender. That's no problem if 300mm is enough. I find it to be more than I need - but not enough if I were to shoot wildlife or sports where you can't get close to the action.
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Old August 14th, 2015, 10:38 PM   #7
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

I'm still thinking of getting the 500mm Mamiya 645 lens - with 2X adapter I'd be able to go to 1000. And if I really went nuts I could stick a Canon 2X adapter on the C-100 as well - 2000mm no problem. Well, maybe a tiny problem or two like a bit more softness/lack of contrast and the 800 pound tripod you'd need to keep it from wiggling all over and the loss of 4 stops:<)

But I'll probably try it anyhow!
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Old August 15th, 2015, 12:28 AM   #8
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

I don't like the 70-300 at all.

I do have the 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens and the EF 100-400 and use it with the C300. I even use the 2xII TC with the 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM and also handhold it in many occasions like from elephant back etc. Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM Review

The 100-400 is also sharp. At times when I can't use my heavy telephotos, I use the 100-400. Also, I have tried using a 1.4x TC with the 100-400 and found that it is a bit soft with that combination. You can see the below example which was shot with 100-400 plus 1.4x


You can also buy the new 100-400 which is sharper.
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Old August 16th, 2015, 01:48 AM   #9
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

Sabyasachi, what do you dislike about the 70-300L?
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Old August 19th, 2015, 03:10 PM   #10
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

Yes I'd also be curious to hear why you don't like it (the latest version).
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Old August 19th, 2015, 04:30 PM   #11
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

I understand disliking the non-L 70-300, but on paper, the L seems to be quite good. Compared to the 100-400L, it's smaller, lighter, sharper, and has a rotating zoom ring. It doesn't take an extender, but one generally wants a faster lens with extenders anyway. Its main drawback seems to be limited reach, but whether that's good or bad really depends on the use case and isn't really a fault with the lens. The other negative is that the focus throw is somewhat limited, but it's not bad and fits right between the 70-200/2.8L and the 100-400L, about where one might expect it.

But that's on paper. If it was a disappointment in the field, that would be good to know.
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Old August 20th, 2015, 11:30 AM   #12
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

I should have explained in the earlier post. Am traveling with slow internet and hence slow to respond.

During my still photography days, I had the non L version of the 70-300 lens and had got some nice moments despite it not being sharp enough. Later I donated the lens to an enthusiast. I had used the IS version briefly and then got rid of it as well to get the 70-200 f2.8 IS. That also I sold off later.

The new 70-300 L IS is sharper that the previous versions. However, my photography as well as filming has changed significantly while this lens has been evolving. So currently I don't find the use for it.

This lens doesn't have a constant aperture. So it is a pain during filming. On the contrary the EF 70-200 L IS II USM is constant aperture and takes TCs well. So it is much better for me in filming.

The irritating thing about this lens is that it doesn't come with a tripod collar. Typically I mount my long lenses on the tripod and the camera is mounted on the lens. When I change to the 70-200 it has a tripod collar, so I don't have a problem in smoothly changing to the 70-200 with or without TCs. However, if I have to mount the 70-300, then the camera has to be mounted on the tripod. So I have to go handheld to save time.

While shooting at 300mm, the aperture is f5.6 so I need to also stop down. With a 70-200 f2.8 IS II lens plus 1.4X tc, I get max 98-280mm at f4. When required I also go with the 2x TC and get 140-400mm focal length at f5.6. I love to do a bit of zoom in/zoom out and the variable aperture of the 70-300 L IS lens becomes a challenge. Also, even when I am not zooming in but just changing focal lengths quickly to get different perspectives, the variable aperture creates a problem.

The above is from documentaries as well as wildlife perspectives.

From pure wildlife perspective, the range of 70-300 is neither here nor there.

I hope this helps.
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Old August 20th, 2015, 02:07 PM   #13
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Re: Canon EF 70-300mm 4-5.6L Lens

Great response, Sabyasachi!

To summarize the negative points:
* It has non-constant aperture. (A real problem for those who live zoom. Not an issue for those who don't.)
* Does not accept extenders. (Could be a limitation for wildlife shooters.)
* Does not accept a tripod collar. (Could this be solved with additional tripod plates? Whether this is an issue depends on the videographer's way of working and other equipment.)
* f/5.6 is relatively slow at 300mm. (This is the classic budget vs. speed tradeoff.)

On the positive side, the L is sharper than previous versions. No negatives mentioned on image or build quality.

So, for users without the budget for a faster lens, who don't need more than 300mm, who don't live-zoom, and for whom a tripod collar isn't a requirement, the 70-300L seems to be viable.

The 70-200/2.8L IS II and 1.4x Extender III is clearly superior, but adds cost, size, weight, and is more conspicuous. (I used to have a 2x Extender II and it was disappointingly soft. I'd go with 1.4x III if I were to buy again.)

The 200/2.8L II is affordable and relatively small and light with great picture quality, but lacks IS. It takes an extender. This and the 100/2.8L Macro IS would cover a similar range as the 70-200, but would require lens changes. You'd get f/2.8 speed and extender capability, but no IS at the long end.

Regarding pricing, the 70-300 is the most affordable, the 70-200L IS the least affordable, and the 100 + 200 combo somewhere in between. To me, it would depend on the importance of IS, the dislike/acceptance of lens changes, and the budget.
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